North Florida/South Georgia Caregivers!

There are upcoming caregiver classes that are being held in Tallahassee if you are interested.  The caregiver office indicated you DO NOT have to be a registered caregiver to attend so please contact Bina and let her know you would like to attend!  I will be there for both classes if anyone has questions or needs anything that I can help with, I am happy to help.

Here is the flyer if you would like to download it =>  Tallahassee 2015 class

The details are as follows:

Course 1: Managing Stress

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

9:00am – 12:00pm

Caregivers will learn a five step approach to problem solving and utilize this approach to address a current problem. Principles of effective communication and techniques such as “I” Messages and Empathic Listening will be presented and practiced in class.

Course 2: Problem Solving & Effective Communication

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Caregivers will identify both internal and external sources of stress in their lives and how negative self-talk and unrealistic expectations can contribute to stress. Stress management techniques such as massage, deep breathing, meditation and journaling will be presented. Caregivers will practice these techniques and develop a personal action plan for stress management.

 

LOCATION:

Quality Inn and Suites

2020 Apalachee Pkwy

Tallahassee, FL

 

Please email or call me to register. Thanks!

Bina Patel, LCSW

Clinical Social Worker

Caregiver Support Program

352-376-1611 ext 4751

 

I hope to see you there!

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I Lived

Coming back from vacation this week I heard this One Republic song and I became a little overwhelmed. For whatever reason, that day, I felt like it was really speaking to me, to all of you, Warriors and Caregivers. Life can be hard and it can be a struggle sometimes to keep our heads up and our eyes open. My goal for the new year is to laugh more and seek out more experiences that add to the health of my soul and that of my family. It is really about that, right? It’s the experiences, not the stuff, that equals a life.

Here is to hoping you own every second!

Happy New Year!

 

“I Lived”
by One Republic

[Verse 1]
Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises
You build a wallHope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stayHope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
Is give it all you have

And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes
You’ll say…

[Chorus]
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

[Verse 2]
Hope that you spend your days
But they all add up
And when that sun goes down
Hope you raise your cup

I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes
I’ll say…

[Chorus]
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

[Bridge]
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa
Oh
Oh
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

[Chorus]
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

[Outro]
Whoa
Whoa
Whoa
Oh
Oh

Have a listen, and a sob, HERE.

HOW TO THEME PARK WITH A WARRIOR

Going to a theme park at Christmas seems like a crazy idea, right?

But think about it…

Many of you have told me stories about how difficult the holidays can be in your households. When you combine family of origin drama, wartime trauma and the stress that comes with the preparation and presentation, MOST holidays can just be too overwhelming for anyone. The fact that Warriors have issue during the holidays is something a caregiver accepts and understands it may always be that way.

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This year around September, we received an unexpected message through Operation Homefront. There was an owner of a condo in Orlando that wanted to donate a week there to a Veteran’s family, were we interested? It took about 30 seconds of conversation to say YES. We had not yet been able to explore any part of Orlando since moving to Florida a year and a half prior to that and our youngest had one mission, and one mission only: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. Knowing that the price of three meals a day and a week at a hotel was completely impossible for a disabled Warrior family, this became the first time that we thought we could do something like this for the last monkey still at home.

Then the planning begins!

I knew where we wanted to go and after figuring out the ends and out of how that would work, we settled on two park annual passes through Universal Studios Orlando. Visiting just twice in a year pays for them and they have an extended pay plan where you pay a down payment then small monthly payments to have an annual pass. (We chose Premiere Passes.) This pass is also good across the park for a discount on literally anything you purchase so there was an additional cost saving in doing so. After that, I scoured the internet for insider blogs on how and when to attach the various areas. An indispensable resource for us was the Orlando Informer. Time and time again, the information I needed always seemed return me to links on their site. They have GREAT background information on the two separate areas for the Harry Potter experience and their crowd calendar was fantastic. We planned over the course of the week what we wanted to do most, assigned them days and ranked them. As it happened, you can see displayed in multiple areas of the park wait times for a variety of popular rides so it was easy to adjust the schedule when a window of opportunity popped up.

IMG_2512Oh man the crowds!

Despite all my recon, there was no way to anticipate what days were going to be full on bumping into each other days versus plenty of room to roam. I thought Christmas Day would be the light day, WRONG. It was actually Christmas Eve that afforded us the lightest crowd. I wasn’t sure how my Warrior would take the situation, you can never really predict, but especially because our last theme park visit was a radically different situation. We ended up spending four days at Universal, can you believe that? There were also a great deal of lessons we learned that I would like to pass on!

IMG_2541

 

WHAT I LEARNED ON MY WAY TO THE ROLLER COASTER

 

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Know what park you are going to, look at maps, rides, reviews and know what is your optimum day/time to visit for the easiest visit on the Warrior that has difficulty with crowds.
  2. Keep an eye on the Warrior. They may not be the best judge in stressful situations of when they need a break or need to step to the side/alley/bench and get out of the thick of it for a bit. At Universal, this was generally Butterbeer time.
  3. Stay occupied. Notice the details, talk about them with the Warrior, and carry on conversation. Often what they need is less of an “ARE YOU OKAY?” and more of a “hey check that cool thing out over there.”
  4. An AWESOME idea that we saw of some families waiting in long lines for rides doing was playing games. Most popular was the Heads Up app from Ellen.   This borders on brilliant in terms of being able to keep everyone’s mind off of things.
  5. Know your limits. If you are crabby after a couple of hours of walking, make sure you eat something. Chances are that if your blood sugar is dropping, so is the kiddos and the Warriors. This can spell disaster.
  6. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous. While a plan is great, you can sometimes miss great opportunities by trying to be too rigid. If something looks fun, tasty, interesting, stop and have the experience. It’s about the experience and you should really immerse yourself in it, no matter how long you will be there.
  7. Be flexible. I didn’t buy tickets to anything else because I wasn’t sure what everyone would want to do. One day we were there super early, another we went late in the day and yet another midday. It turned out to us, early was best so we know that for next time. Even though crowds were kind of crazy, we stayed a whopping 6 ½ hours one day!
  8. Look for deals. This is likely the biggest way to reduce the stress for your Warrior. Make a daily budget, stick to it and use coupons, discounts and thrifty shopping. A great idea we had for the kiddo was to put her in charge of her spending money. She had a budget for the trip and we gave it all to her. When it was in cash form, suddenly the idea of giving it up was harder. (Sometimes when parents swipe with plastic all day, they have a hard time visualizing how much things cost.) Instead of coming home with things that would be discarded in a couple of months, she made very thoughtful purchases of items that would recall her favorite memories of the week. It was a fantastic thing to watch.
  9. Consider where you stay. We were lucky to have a week donated to us but without the kitchen option, we would not have been able to afford to do this trip. Look for kitchenettes where you can take your precooked items to your room for dinners in the room. Some chains have free breakfast and great rewards programs that let you accumulate points for free rooms. Think about that when choosing a place and sign up in advance if you haven’t already.  Don’t forget there are great resorts that offer certain packages to Veterans like this and this.
  10. Remember to have FUN! It won’t always be perfect but you have the opportunity to do things out of your comfort zone. Multiple times during the trip my Warrior took the time to utilize techniques from his 12-week workshop that allowed him to talk himself down on his own. It was fantastic progress to witness.

IMG_2559

 

You CAN do this! Don’t stick to old traditions that make everyone unhappy in the end. Sometimes mixing it up a little is exactly what every one needed!  Caregivers get stuck in not changing things at all for fear of what will happen.  Sometimes seeing the look on the face of a kiddo who is beside themselves with joy is exactly what a Warrior needs!

 

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Inspiration

I saw this today and thought of you guys.  Being a caregiver is hard, especially when you are part of a couple and the Veteran is your spouse.  I loved this so much because its a great description of what we go through.  The original post was from a life coach that maintains a couples enrichment board on Pinterest. I would encourage you to check it out too, you can find it HERE.

quote

Every hero has some weakness…

Cross posted to http://www.qoftu.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Adventure anyone?

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.58.34 AM

My Warrior is off on a rigorous challenge this week through the Soldiers to Summits group.  We don’t really know much about the organization from friends so this will be a new opportunity to check out a new organization.  If you are looking for something that is different from the traditional recreation event, they look like the have some amazing options.

I asked him to take a ton of pictures and write-up what he learns each day so that I can post it here for you guys next week.  Fingers crossed that it’s a good chance to learn about himself and be better balanced in life.  Isn’t that what caregivers want most for our Warriors?

Holiday Recovery

Chicken Darby copy

Darby doesn’t like holidays

 

I feel like there should be a 12 Step Guide for Caregivers to get through (or get over) Thanksgiving and the quickly approaching Christmas. I go into them optimistic and full of hope. I think I have prepared and covered down on any potential problems. Then the shit hits the fan.  Here are my 12 steps:

 

  1. We know we are powerless over PTSD episodes but we believe that they can be managed.
  1. We continue to believe there is a purpose for the journey; we just have to keep reminding ourselves.
  1. Planning every detail and anticipating problems is what we do, even if we don’t do it effectively enough.
  1. Making sure to include interests of our Warrior in holiday time should ensure that they remain relaxed and in a good frame of mind.
  1. We know it is likely to not work out the way we want it to.
  1. There is never enough time in the day to fix everything but we will try.
  1. Cross fingers, say prayers and try to mentally will the bad episodes away.
  1. Go in a room by ourselves, get mad, get up and go back out to try again.
  1. Try really hard not to take it personal.
  1. Always take it personal.
  1. Eat a doughnut. Or a cookie. Or both.
  1. Give up and hope tomorrow is better.

 

Can I get an amen?

Isn’t that how it is? It is for me. I start out with all great intentions. Road trip? Okay, I will drive half of the time. Snacks? Healthy nuts, fruit and water will keep the gluten monster at bay. Music? I will alternate between the tastes of everyone in the car.

What actually happens?

Traffic becomes unbearable for the Warrior. Crowded bridges and overpasses in large cities offer unending anxiety that accumulates until they explode. No matter the stress or issue for any other driver, it is their fault and their actions are purposeful. Healthy snacks yield to caffeine drinks and sugar that seems the easy fix temporarily. No thought is given to the result of them and a litany of profanity is available to the caregiver that tries to offer an opposing view. Don’t put on Christmas music because basically it just irritates them.

You just can’t win.

So what to you do make things easier? Is there such a thing? Often I feel like nothing progresses until there is an argument about it and then the Warrior hears. It is easier to convey a message in anger sometimes; I just don’t understand that part. I don’t like it. I don’t want it and it is distressful. For whatever reason, it seems to be a common theme in my house though. Right now I just keep repeating step 12. It will get easier I am sure.

Do you have any tips that can help a caregiver getting through holiday trips, trials and trauma? How do you keep from loosing your mind?